Last month, realscreen began its tenth volume – we’ll be celebrating 10 years at the end of next summer. That’s 20 MIPCOM and MIPTVs (far more than I ever wanted to attend), nearly a dozen NATPEs, a brace of Wildscreens and Jackson Holes, more pitching forums than I can recall, and far more lines of text than I thought we’d ever be able to sensibly write about non-fiction television.
I was struck by a sudden realization when I was working on our VOD report this issue: just now, after nearly a decade of talking about it (and then growing tired of talking about it), we’ve begun to see true convergence. It’s a word so loaded down with baggage now it almost sounds amateurish to utter, but here we are at last. Our technology has caught up with our aspirations, and it is finally possible to blend media sources, and output to the beloved box that’s stood post in our living rooms for so long.
I can recall some editorials – hell, I wrote some of them – predicting that technological evolution would undermine the economics of the industry. And I wasn’t alone. With each technological evolution, and the next new platform viewers are sure to migrate to, there is the requisite wringing of hands and whinging in the press. Each will lead to devastation, people will lose their jobs, the sky will fall.
And yet it never happens. All that changes is the interface; the basic requirements of input of content and output to consumers remain unchanged. The only thing altered is the mechanics in between, and they always manage to compensate the producers of content, the distribution networks and the end users.
Granted, there are sometimes casualties. As Disney SVP and CFO Tom Staggs publicly noted recently, VOD is having a ‘cannibalistic’ effect on home video, yet the net effects on the industry are nil. Viewers still need the same amount of content, or more. What’s changing are the deliverables.
Of course, all this leads to FDR, who said of the remnants of depression during his inauguration (though it applies as much here): ‘Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’
Here’s to our tenth year and the approaching market, I hope everyone’s advances are painless and fruitful.